DÜRER, Albrecht
(b. 1471, Nürnberg, d. 1528, Nürnberg)

The Desperate Man

c. 1515
Etching, 186 x 135 mm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Older commentators referred to this etching as The Dismayed Husband or The Bath. Since 1871 it has been known as The Desperate Man, although its true meaning is still a subject of controversy. The man wearing a beret is based on Dürer's portrait sketch of his brother Endres. Because of the added beard some critics thought it might represent Michelangelo. There is today general agreement that this is Dürer's first experimental etching. It is unsigned, undated and probably drawn directly on the plate without a definite program.

This print was etched on iron, as were all of Dürer's six works in this medium, and impressions without rust spots are rare.